Crowdfunding scams of the Eco-friendly kind

Did you ever dream of a cigarette lighter that would solve the world’s global warming problem? Enter VOLT, the self-proclaimed “world’s FIRST most ECO-Friendly ion LIGHTER” (no, I did not make up the capitalization, check out the IndieGoGo page). Courtesy of “Sebastian Max” aka Maksim Sibirin, London, UK (originally from Riga, Latvia).

There’s a lot wrong with this. Electric lighters have been with us for ages, and lighters are responsible for a pathetic part of plastic waste and fossil fuel usage. So no cigarette lighter is going to save the environment.

The poorly written IGG campaign page nevertheless raised £40,179–206% of the primary goal, in partnership with FundedToday.

Checking the comments section, we see a familiar sight: backers not receiving their product, even though an update in March 2017 stated they were shipping already. No refunds. Similar products being found on Amazon and eBay for half the price.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we got ourselves another scammer.

Checking Kickstarter, we find out that “Sebastian Max” is also the author of “GARY: Earphones & Cables Automatic Organizer” (£12,561 raised). Comments section? No product, no refund. A second scam.

“CARZOR: Most portable travel shaving RAZOR”. An earlier attempt. Cancelled after raising £437. Why, you might ask? Because Steven Morehouse, a smart backer, pointed out in the comments that a very similar (and similarly named) Chinese portable razor was being sold at AliExpress.

The successor to the “GARY” thing had two attempts on Kickstarter. The first one was cancelled, raising £10,034 of the £10,000 goal. The second one was more successful, raising £25,263.

Mind it, I found no evidence whatsoever that ANY of the first Gary backers got what they were promised, no reviews, nothing. Don’t the backers check the previous version’s page before pledging?

Well, at least they do after backing. The comments section is filled with complaints and concerns.

At least Kickstarter paid attention this time and suspended the projects three days before this article was written.

And IndieGoGo hosts Maksim’s newest creation, “ANCHOR CABLE — Last cable you will ever need”, which raised $328,137–2152% of the target goal. The “gadget” also raised £215,174 on Kickstarter. Courtesy of “Anchor Laboratories Co., London, England”. “Born in Latvia , raised in UK , I matured as a product and graphics designer”, states the company profile. How will it turn out? Your guess is as good as mine. Just kidding, of course it’s another scam of one kind or another.

You may have noticed that I’m a lot more confident about my claims than in my previous article. Well, because this time I decided I was Batman, so I just found a reliable inside source on Maksim Sibirin’s dealings.

And then I found a GoFundMe campaign by the same Maksim Sibirin to help a guy named Vitali walk again. It asks for £25,000 (I did the math — €28,234), because Vitali needs €30,000 to buy a €19,000 prosthesis. Is this a scam? I have no proof it is. Oh Maksim Sibirin, truly the boy who cried wolf.


Writer and columnist based in Yerevan, Armenia

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